Rep. Raul Grijalva, Arizona Democrat, said keeping in place a 2008 law intended to curb trafficking of Central American children is enough for many congressional Democrats to hold the line on legislation dealing with the crisis of unaccompanied children streaming into the country at the southern border.
“That’s the fundamental line in the sand for many of us,” Mr. Grijalva said on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.”
The 2008 anti-trafficking law stipulates that unaccompanied alien children from countries that don’t border the United States get hearings in immigration courts — a process that often gets delayed for years. A House task force has recommended changes to the law, but many Democrats, including Mr. Grijalva, are resisting.
“We feel that the law is there for a reason — that the due process involved in this law requires that these children have advocates, that they have an opportunity to have someone represent them,” Mr. Grijalva said. “How does a 5-year-old child from Honduras going to be able to make either a claim of either asylum or fear of violence?”
“We feel very strongly about drawing the line on this portion of the law because we have seen what the experience [has] been with the Mexican kids,” he said later.
Asked whether it was worth not passing anything over the 2008 law, Mr. Grijalva said it’s a “difficult question.”
“At this point, if we are talking about passing something that is of convenience, passing something that is more of a political coverage for people and the law becomes the issue that’s thrown out, yeah. Yeah,” he said. “I think as a nation, the humanitarian values, the asylum values … that we have established in law and tradition and in practice are that important. It’s a difficult question because you want to process these kids, but if nothing is done the law’s in place and then I think, like it or not, we’re still obligated to follow it.”